Jo Gibson, Operations Director at First Capital Cashflow, a leading cloud-based payments Bureau, discusses the safety of the cloud when it comes to processing payments.

In the constantly evolving digital age, the cloud has been one of the key components to the rapid success of online payments and seamless transactions of money globally.

However, recent high-profile data breaches at organisations including Talk Talk, Three Mobile and not to forget the NHS, has put cyber-security under the microscope.

Business owners are becoming increasingly concerned about how they can protect customers’ confidential data, especially if it contains financial information.

Research conducted by cloud specialist Zero2Ten has found that 60 per cent of people cited concerns about data security as a barrier to the adoption of cloud-based payment services.

Businesses are being put off from using cloud-based technology, but are they, in fact, missing a trick? Or do they need more information about its benefits?

Safety of the cloud

When processing payments using automated methods like Bacs Direct Debit and Direct Credit, the cloud is proven to provide comprehensive security benefits that are far superior to paper-based or in-house software solutions.

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Hosting financial data in-house can present business owners with problems and stresses they don’t need on their plate. Expensive upfront costs of software installation combined with costly on-going upgrades and licenses fees are an unwelcome sight.

The cloud offers access to a whole host of security benefits that aren’t available with in-house technology – or most certainly would come with a high price tag. The benefits include things like continual updates to technology, email hacking prevention and constantly updated antivirus software. Highly advanced cloud providers even appoint ethical hackers to regularly and meticulously test their systems, constantly keeping them one step ahead of potential breaches.

A great benefit that the cloud has to offer is that it can be accessed anywhere at any time. With data being stored in the cloud, business owners have the flexibility to gain access to this information at their convenience. This doesn’t just help the practicality of the working day; it means that actions can be taken fast if a security breach occurs. For example, if a laptop is lost or stolen, data can be accessed immediately from any location in the world and wiped to prevent it falling into the wrong hands. Further, if a burglary takes place at headquarters or even if a natural disaster occurs, financial data can be remotely accessed instantly, and the situation can be contained. It is well documented that missing laptops are often the source of data breaches, so an ability to remove data from these systems remotely is a major advantage of cloud payments technology and something that currently isn’t communicated to businesses and their customers.

Stalwart data centres

Another advantage of the cloud, and probably its biggest safety selling point is the ability to host information in a secure, offsite data centre.

Hosting sensitive financial data in high-security data centres is one of the biggest security advantages and something security, and IT professionals need to capitalise on.

Data centres provide a cast iron level of security, they are the highest quality environment possible for data storage, with experts in their field on hand to tackle any unwanted incidents.

Moreover, the UK has some data centre sites across the country, so leading cloud providers can store information across multiple locations, further reducing the risk of a hack or breach taking place.

Using the cloud and secure data centres, in turn moving sensitive information away from company’s headquarters, mitigates against a range of disaster scenarios and further cement the argument that the cloud is the safest tool when it comes to protecting sensitive financial information.

We’re only human

Based on an analysis of over 450 cyber incidents the firm had handled, BakerHostetler’s 2017 Data Security Incident Response Report concluded that employee action/mistake was the cause of 32% of all incidents.

Many SME’s looks to technological failure as the one and only reason for the recent insecurity surrounding the cloud. This key misconception has to be addressed.

In reality, the human error lies at the heart of the majority of breaches. As a business owner, opting to process payments using cloud-based technology significantly reduces the possibility of human intervention.

Encryption

With a cloud-based service from a leading provider – like those that handle financial data – delicate customer information can be encrypted, reducing the risk of any unwanted breaches.

Multiple layers of sophisticated encryption act as a barrier. So, in the unlikely event of a data breach, highly sensitive information is more likely to remain secure.

Indeed, these layers of encryption could be implemented for in-house software, but not without significant upfront costs to business – something only larger organisations would be able to foot the bill for.

The future

There are many advantages for business owners to invest in cloud-based technology, including to process payments or any other related expenditure.

As the first cloud-based service provider in the Bacs sector, we knew security was paramount, and our cloud-service has stood the test of time. Time and time again, we see businesses embrace the potential of the cloud to enhance their payment processing systems, safe in the knowledge that our systems, supported by experienced in-house developers, have allowed clients to securely process payments for the last 15 years.

As long as businesses use a reputable and trustworthy cloud provider, then the cloud is one of the most secure methods of hosting and handling data.